The click of Emily's lighter echoed quietly in the thickened sky. We stared out on the grand cityscape of New York. The waning sun illuminated the skyline and, even just for a few moments, life felt beautiful. I looked contently at Emily's beautiful porcelain face. With the setting sun laying over her face, her beauty was precious.
With an exaggerated drag Emily blew smoke into the heavens. "Kauner," She began, "Why did you do it?" She glanced at me from the corner of her eye.
I gritted my teeth and took a silent lungful of air, I knew sooner or later I would have to shed light on my actions. "Em, you know when your eyes burn before you cry?"
"Yeah . . ." She replied duly and nodded simultaneously.
"Em, I couldn't do that anymore. It felt like I couldn't feel anymore, taste anymore. Em, I felt nothing, and felt like nothing. I felt like not one single person loved me or cared. That's why Emily."
She ducked her head, but the reflection from the last fragments of light betrayed her. I watched as tears gently staggered down her now cherry cheeks.
She started to speak but softly choked, "Kauner . . . I'm sorry. I shouldn't have hurt you like that. But please, don't you ever do that to me again."
"Sure Em, never again." I stated. I took off my weather-worn jacket, placed it over her shoulders, and lovingly kissed her forehead. We walked back to our apartment in silence. I prepared Emily a hot glass of green tea and we watched several old noir films before she passed out in my arms. I laid her gently down on our small twin-sized bed, pulled the covers over her, and kissed her good night. I took the couch so I would not wake her and fell asleep. I was not remotely prepared for the incident that the following day had in store for me.
My name is Kauner Cabb and three years and six months ago, I killed myself. Nothing special just put the .22 in my mouth and pulled the trigger. However, I was brought back to life by fast acting doctors and advanced technology. Six months in a coma and three grueling years of rehabilitation and here I stand making the toughest decision of my, mostly, pathetic life.
A foolish elderly man once said to me, "There is a difference between love and infatuation Kauner. Learn to tell the difference, because love is watching someone die."
My grandfather always spoke in riddles, at least that is what I thought when we had conversations. Now, I finally understood what he meant as I sat in the Intensive Care Unit of the Kaiser Permanente Hospital. The rusty smell of blood and the intoxicating stench of piss and 409 swirled in my nostrils. My stomach lurched as I saw a young man, who looked to be around my age, screaming as he held a blood-spurting stub of what used to be an arm.
"Mistah Cabbu!" I was snapped back to reality by the shrill octaves of the foreign doctor's voice. He looked at me as if I deliberately did not understand his poor English. "Mistah Cabbu, you wife isu critical condicion. She onry want speak wif you. Onry you!"
"Oh, . . .Okay." I despondently replied and peeled myself from the sticky plastic ICU waiting room chair. My shoes squeaked as I tottered down the hospital hallway. I watched the tiles as my feet passed over them. One white, one blue, and one white, one blue. The vulgar aroma of feces and death lingered around the stark hallway. One white, one blue, and one white, one blue. I stumbled into the doctor as he abruptly stopped in front of an open door. The grey sign on the door, the sign that holds the patient name cards, read: 'Emily Cabb'.
I started to take my first step in the room and felt a burning knot build in my throat like gas during acid reflux. The lights had been lowered, like the lighting in the nursing houses, and death hung like cob webs in the room. One white, one blue, and one white, one blue. The curtains had been pulled around the beds and that could only mean one of two things. The patient was sleeping or the patient was dying.
The nurse had tried to cover up Emily's legs with the blanket, but it was to no avail. How could you hide the twisted forms of someone struck by a drunk driver. Following the twisted lines to a contorted body I saw Emily smiling softly. Her smile did not last long as she cringed while waves of pain shot through her like bullets. The nurse motioned me over to Emily's side, like she had a bad case of cerebral palsy. I took three steps which felt as if an eternity of motion. Emily weakly whispered something in my ear and the knot burst in my throat.
"No!" I cried as the tears streamed down my face, "No, can't do it Em! I just can't!" The tears were like rivers now, continuous and never ceasing.
She smiled faintly and tears came from her eyes, she started, "Plea- . . ." but cringed half way through her sentence. I kneeled down as she whispered to me once more. "Kauner, if you love me, you can let me go. I love you Kauner, but it hurts so much. Please?"
I hiccupped while nodding and gripped the sides of my temple with my right hand. My face distorted and the tears never stopped. "I love you Em, I love you so much."
I turned shakily to the doctor and tried to nod. Even if his English was poor he understood physical actions. He pulled two small glass bottles and two hypodermic needles from his starched white jacket pocket. He drew from one bottle with one needle and repeated the action with the second pair. The doctor glanced at the nurse and nodded to me.
I bent down, my whole body convulsing with tremors of fear, and kissed Emily. I stared deeply into her beautiful bloodshot sapphire eyes and whispered, "There is a difference between love and infatuation Em. I definitely love you. Love, my dear Emily, is watching someone die."
My name is Kauner Cabb and I watched as my wife, Emily Cabb, closed her eyes and never opened them again. She always thought that I was brought back to this existence to learn a lesson. I suppose she was correct, I learned how beautiful life can be. I learned what true love was and how much I took advantage of my time here on earth. How short life is and why everyday matters. Now I live daily and wait till I can see Emily once again. And when I am reunited with her in that kingdom nothing dies.